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Hidden Hartley Wood letter in Harry Powell Book

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Bernard C:

--- Quote from: Pinky ---... I'm going to contact the Sunderland National Glass Centre ...
--- End quote ---

Pinky — Are you sure?   My experience is that it is Sunderland Museum that is the organisation with the responsibility for Sunderland's historic industry, not the National Glass Centre.


I don't know what glass is on display at this museum, and it's not clear from the website.   It's probably best to check before going.

About eight or so years ago we visited the former Sunderland Museum & Art Gallery in Borough Road in the centre of Sunderland.   My recollection is that there was no display of Hartley Wood art glass or Pyrex, but permanent displays of:-
* The 1820s Londonderry cut suite
* Sunderland Bridge rummers
* Greener & Turnbull pressed glass
* Jobling 1930s art glass.
Included in this display were three rare stunning Art Deco classics:-
* The Jobling tall centrepiece figurine that never went into production
* The box for a pair of Jobling 10400 Opalique squirrel carver rests*
* A disparate pair of 1932 mounted pressed glass lighting panels by Allan Howes, glassworks unidentified (these classic Deco lighting panels were also made by Hailwood & Ackroyd and John Walsh Walsh.)
Bernard C.  8)

* — I had a pair of these (no box) on display at a Bristol fair about four or five years ago.   Next to me was a French Lalique specialist.   When he saw these beauties, he did an imitation of the opening scene in 4 Weddings and a Funeral.    He spent much of the remainder of the day reading my copy of Baker & Crowe, putting fingerprints all over these knife rests, and muttering f-words with a French accent.   It was pretty obvious that he had never seen Jobling Opalique novelties before, and he was quite amazed and astounded by them.

Bernard's reservations regarding the National Glass Centre are well-founded, as it has, as I understand it (from discussions with them last year) no permanent collection of glass of any historical period, and certainly no budget, or particular desire to acquire individual pieces, or donated collections.

.....thank you Nigel for the email address - very much. And for the lovely natter. It saved me a lot of time going round the houses. Thank you too, Mr Bernard C and Mr Marcus Le Casson....quite right - I'm not sure about anything most of the time and doubt an oft unwelcome but nonetheless very valuable old friend::)). With this in mind (not to mention Sunderland glass and pottery, a gliding reptile fossil and a tree canopy in Sunderland Museum floating tantalisingly through my head) I'll go slow anf follow the path of information directly.

Thing is - and I knew instinctively I was heading for danger - this strange little torn letter is hinting at far, far more than the sum of it contents so I've not been thinking too coherently - at least - not coherently enough yet to ask Susan Newell lucid questions:). So today, with the help of a 'man on a boat' and another in a 'silication department' in Oxon I managed to locate an ex-Hartley Wood worker by the name of Mike Tuffey who is now the owner of English Antique Glass (EAG) - here's his link:

Mike was lovely. Just lovely. He described himself as an engineer, an industrial furnace-builder now glass-maker, his career in the industry beginning in 1963. Mike maintained the furnaces at Hartley Wood, at Whitefriars, at Caithness - and has worked at glasshouses the length and breadth of the mainland (I forgot to ask about the Islands - pardon me). Initially there were 'multi-pot' furnaces says he, where different colours are under the same fire, therefore are heated at the same rates to the same temperature. As time passed there was a move forward to 'single-pot' furnaces which are far cheaper to run and allow for more flexibilty to heat certain colours at different temperatures. For instance, he built a single-pot furnace for Whitefriars that was never installed - the factory closed. There was a significant change in the glass industry in the mid 1960s but I don't know the nature of this - the furnace had gone out and bless him, he rang me knowing this - I did not want to press him.

When Hartley Wood closed Mike bought much of the equipment which is in use at his Alverchurch works now. An ex-Hartley Wood glassmaker called Harry Pryor/or Prior travels down from Sunderland to give a hand one or two days a week (I can't remember exactly). Nowadays things are tough - Mike says he could not earn a living from streaky or coloured glass alone. On top of his usual he carries out an odd commission, will work to samples, is involved in restoration work. He talked about a clear glass at EAG - 'water white and sparkly'.

That's as much as I know for now - it's rather wobbly - please forgive. Thanks to all of you and to Mike it has helped to clarify things a little - to be able to form the questions I need to ask first..........What does the letter mean? Who holds the Hartley Wood Documentation? And I noticed in one or two of the pictures of Hartley Wood vases the streaky colours are running through (to coin Mikes term - which spurred the question) 'water-white' glass. But in the two vases I have here - the one Hartley Wood and the other Powell, the streaky colours are running through a glass with a grey or very lightly smoked tinted glass and I wonder why this is - whether the tinted form is a deliberate manner of decorative treatment - to make the glass look a bit older or more authentic, the way there are deliberate bubbles in. Or whether it is something else or both. The ruby thing, too is fascinating.

Mike says it's fine for anyone to go and visit and watch - it happens all the time::)) So I think I might pop along (if anyone fancies coming maybe we could arrange something). In the meantime I'll keep you posted and thank you again.

Best Pinky


Pinky: hooked on this thing and can't put down the Harry Powell. There was more than one Alfred Wood. Thank you so very, very much to Mike Tuffey who sent me Susan Newells article on Hartley Wood. There was;

Alfred Wood (1854 to 1916) from the old Hartley factory - the colour mixer who joined James Hartley Junior as a partner in 1895 so the name became Hartley, Wood & Co. Since this Alfred passed in 1916 and since Powells book was published in 1923 neither the letter or book could have belonged to him.

But he had two sons who succeeded him in the business - Gilbert Henry Wood (1886 to 1979).

Alfred John Wood (1882 to 1948) passed in 1948 just a year after the letter is dated  so I'm thinking that this must be the Alfred J Wood - the owner of book and letter. Perhaps the fact of him passing so many years ago explains why the book was not in the glasshouse at it's closure.

I don't know which Alfred passed away with the secret ruby recipe (both?).

Or whether streaky vases started to be made and sold in the 30s or before the 30s - back before 1900.

In fact I don't know anything. Only that Sunderland is calling. The first stop will be Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery - Mr Bernard C and Mr Marcus Le Casson you were right - Susan Newell found some information there.

Thank heavens for Mike Tuffey and Susan Newells article and you all....Dexter....Roker Terrace is also calling::)). Will post again. PinkyXX

flying free:
I've recently bought a vase I've been hankering after for a while.  No pics yet but it's from the 1930's Hartley Wood antique streaky glass range.
In doing some research I came upon this information from the National Archives - it didn't seem to be linked here in any other threads. Makes interesting reading regarding the ownership history of Hartley Wood Glass.


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